Lays of Ancient Virginia, and Other Poems
137 Pages
English

Lays of Ancient Virginia, and Other Poems

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Lays of Ancient Virginia, and Other Poems by James Avis Bartley
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Title: Lays of Ancient Virginia, and Other Poems
Author: James Avis Bartley
Release Date: September 23, 2005 [EBook #16735]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LAYS OF ANCIENT VIRGINIA ***
Produced by Mark C. Orton, Pilar Somoza and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Transcriber's Note: The Table of Contents has been added to this version. The sections in the ToC were named following the page headers division.
LAYS
OF
ANCIENT VIRGINIA,
AND OTHER
POEMS:
BY
JAMES AVIS BARTLEY,
OF ORANGE COUNTY, VIRGINIA.
RICHMOND: J.W. RANDOLPH, PUBLISHER
1855
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, BY J.A. BARTLEY, In the Clerk's Office of the Eastern District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Virginia.
G.S. ALLEN & CO., PRINTERS, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.
TO MY FATHER, THIS VOLUME IS INSCRIBED BY HIS SON,
THE AUTHOR.
PREFATORY LETTER TO THE PUBLIC.
DEARPUBLIC:
These Poems were written with pleasure; if they be read with pleasure, I shall be requited amply. How often the Guardian Angel of the Father of Virginia in surpassing loveliness rose before my imagining eyes! Like the spirit of a dream, she glided through the foliage, verdant and shadowy. Enchanted myself, the desire to enchant others seized me. The "Poet's Enchanted Life" is a gallery of poetic pictures of nature. Most of the minor and miscellaneous pieces, breathe the spirit of virtuous affection. If critics censure me unjustly or intemperately, I will fight them—but I hope to find them, as well asyou, dear
Public, very kind friends of a loving Author.
CONTENTS
POCAHONTAS A SONG. ELFINDALE. OF A SKYLARK. THE PRINCESS OF PERU. THE HOLY LADY. TIME AND ETERNITY. YEMEN. LILLY: A POEM. ADIEU TO EMORY. VIRGINIA. WATOGA. NAPOLEON. STANZAS. THE LOVER. THE ANGELS OF EARTH. AUSTRALIA; OR, THE NEW GOLDEN AGE. THE PROPHECY OF COLUMBIA. LOVE. THE LOVERS. SONG. HOURS WITH NATURE. YORKTOWN. POET'S ENCHANTED LIFE. VIRGINIA MELODIES
POCAHONTAS.
J.A. BARTLEY.
[A] Where yonder moss-grown ruin lonely stands, Which from the James, the Pilgrim may survey, Stretch alway forth its old, forsaken hands As if to beg some friend its fall to stay, And now the wild vine flaunts in greenness gay; Erst rose a Castle, known to deathless fame, Though now the mournful rampart falls away, Hither Virginia's hero-father came, To found a glorious state, and give these regions name.
For, then, both far and near the forest wide,
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Stretched from the main unto the setting sun, And Bears and Panthers walked in fiercest pride, And slept at ease when their red feast was done, But here of white men there had ne'er walked one, But a fierce race of wild and savage hue, Their simple life from chase and angling won, And oft, when wrath arose, each other slew, In bloody wars which dyed their soil with crimson dew.
I ween it was a novel sight to see The white man landing in the vasty wild, Which each familiar creature seemed to flee, Where not a christian dwelling ever smiled, Nor e'er a well-known sound the ear beguiled, But all was wild and hideous—and the heart, Mayhap, of stout man, trembled as a child, —And oft the exile's tear would, gushing, start, That ever he was lured from Albion's coast to part.
But there was one, the chieftan, of that band, Whose soul no dread, however great, could chill, His was the towering mind, the mighty hand, On which, his feeble followers resting, still Would fear no peril from approaching ill. With him the strangers built their rugged home, And turned the soil, and eat, and drank their fill; Glad that to this fair Eden they had come, And reconciled became to their adopted home.
Thus pass'd away in peaceful happiness, A little space by yonder river's side, But now arose the wail of keen distress, Gaunt Famine, with his murderous eye, they spied, Stalk round the walls of those who wept and sighed, And when their venturous chieftain wandered forth, Ill hap betrayed him to the savage pride, The death-club rose, his head upon the earth, To perish there and thus, that man of kingly worth.
Not yet! before that last sad deed be done, An Indian maiden springs beneath the blow, And says her virgin blood shall freely run, For him, extended on the ground below, See! how, her face upturned, her tears do flow, See Love and anguish painted in her eyes, That, like a Seraph's, in their pity, glow, And surely Angels, looking from the skies Claimed this poor savage girl a sister in disguise.
Those eyes, those tears prevent the falling stroke, For Powhatan could not withstand her tears,
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His favorite child, who, charmed, beneath the oak, His savage spirit from her dawning years, The wondering white man now he kindly rears, And bids his menials haste the Indian's fare For him whom now his daughter's love endears, And lo! within the Lion's horrid lair, The Dove has brought her mate, and sees him unhurt there.
Oh Love! how powerful o'er all thou art, In dusky breasts or breasts of whiter hue, To thy delicious touch the human heart Throbs with respondent transport ever true. On Love's swift wings, this Indian virgin flew, To snatch from hateful death the lovely chief, Love drew her tears, like showers of pearly dew, Love filled her passionate breast with tender grief And love still drinks her soul, and naught can give relief.
She decks her long, black hair with gayest flowers And tries each girlish art to warm his breast, And, straying oft, among the leafy bowers, Whilst Luna's silvery smiles upon them rest, And Earth sleeps deeply, in that beauty drest, [B] The lonely Muckawiss , with doleful strain, Pities her fate—alas, she is not blest, But hopes and doubts, and dares to hope again, That Smith may love, and ne'er is free from love's soft pain.
And fair was she, the dim wood's lustrous child, Though born amid a race of uncouth men, And gentle as the fawn, which, through the wild, Trembled with timorous haste, and fled, and when She stood within the rude and silent glen, Of deepest forests, she appear'd more bright, Than other nymphs who roamed these regions then, And now—for o'er her form and sylph-like waist, A native modesty entranced the most fastidious taste.
He whom she loved to all these charms was cold, Though well he saw her bosom's gentle fire, Stern is the soul that worships fame or gold, To all that softer ecstacies inspire. A stony heart these tyrants e'er require, Brave Smith ne'er thought of Pocahontas' love, But only that his name would glitter higher In coming centuries, others' names above, Whose soon contented souls an humbler distance rove.
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To cheat her pining soul of this dear dream, They told a dreary tale that he had died, While to her father's hut, like some fair gleam Of sunlight, with some heavenly thought, she hied, And now both day and night, how sorely sighed, And inly groaned the poor bereaved maid, Nor could restrain strong nature's gushing tide, That in the dark, cold grave, her love was laid;— Disconsolate, she moved along the leafy glade.
Pausing beside her Smith's imagined tomb, Weeping, by moonlight pale, she strewed fair flowers, To wither o'er him, emblems of his bloom So soon departed from these lovely bowers. Once plucked, these buds will never bless the showers, Sweet charities, by wearing wonted charms, But lose for aye their balm for summer hours; So all her showery grief him no more charms, To spring and rest a joy in her exulting arms.
She deems he sleeps within the envious ground, Which stole him early from her young, warm breast, No more her brow with wild flower wreaths is bound, And all her ornaments, neglected, rest; Since fled is now the dreamy hope which blest Her artless soul, she loathes her glance to fling On corals, braids, and flowers, and royal vest, And slowly wanders like some moon-struck thing, Through gloomy cypress groves, and by yon haunted spring.
But time must soothe the most exquisite smart Of love, when wounded by the dart of death; For life would flee, should not such woe depart, Too deeply weighing on the heart beneath. Fair Pocahontas breathes the wonted breath Of tranquil life, a creature darkly bright, Decking her hair again with many a wreath, Walking amid the high wood's gentle night, Charming her wild, old Father's heart with strange delight.
Yet nought could make her cease to view with love, The tender memory of the mournful past; And once when warring clouds grew black above, The shrieking Earth with awful night o'ercast, And long foiled Hatred hoped to glut his fast With English gore, with irksome steps she stole, O'er deep morass, through tangled brake, and cast
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The boon of life to each devoted soul, Who slept within that Castle's frail and weak control.
Oh! we might marvel that her savage heart, Would show such love to her loved father's foes; But love like this, will act no selfish part; Over drear earth, diffusing joy, it goes, Its breath the fragrance of the earliest rose, Its voice the sound of an unearthly thing, Its form an Angel's, and as pure as those, Who come to gladdened man on shining wing, Which scatters round the sweets of an immortal spring.
Now when the dogwood gemmed with blossoms white, The gorgeous grove where oak and stately pine, Upthrew their gnarled arms of massy might, And thus a leafy canopy did twine, This dusky Dryad would with grace recline, Along the mossy bank of crystal stream, In whose smooth glass her angel beauties shine, Beside brave Rolfe, a man of pallid gleam, Who sighed his soul to her, and taught her love's true dream.
Beneath the silver moon, resplendent queen, With simple rites, these mingling souls were wed; The happy stars looked down, with brighter sheen, To view love's wretched fears for ever fled; The wild flowers trembled in their dewy bed, And up a most enchanting fragrance sent; The blissful Hours, unnoticed, onward sped; And, with their gentle music sweetly blent, The breathing winds and waters murmured their content.
Ah me! what deep, celestial transports thrill'd These beating bosoms, in so sweet a scene: What tears of tender joy their visions filled, Scanning each other's soul-absorbing mien And, in that bower of paradisal green, Happy, they sighed, in accents fond and warm, That thus enclosed Earth's primal pair had been, Where oft they spied bright Seraph's glorious form, And rose on high afar the grove's eternal charm.
There oft the mocking bird, a songster gay, Would soothe their souls, with multifarious song, Singing his farewell-hymns to dying Day, As fade his smiles the darkening glades along; And when the frowns of night more thickly throng,
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The amorous firefly led them at that hour, O'er wooded hills, and marshes deep and long, To their sweet rest, which sank, with grateful power, Along their wearied nerves, in their wild, oaken bower.
As flows the stream, with calm, unruffled wave, O'er shining sands, to kiss the glassy main, So flowed the life their gracious Maker gave, Nor felt the obstructive power of obvious pain; So deep o'er them was Passion's rapturous reign, That mid their bower's delicious solitude, They dreamed their hearts might never sigh again; By love their gentle spirits were subdued, To the deep rapture of a heavenly seeming mood.
Alas! the race of Pocahontas flow, As waves, away, which can return no more; No more o'er plain and peak they bear the bow, Or shove the skiff from yonder curving shore; Their reign, their histories, their names are o'er; The plow insults their sires' indignant bones; The very land disowns its look of yore; Vast cities rise, and hark! I hear the tones Of many mingling Tongues; and boundless labour groans.
And paler nymphs are sweetly wooed and won, Upon this soil, and they are happy too, But of these fairer English damsels, none Have shown devotion more divinely true, Than thou, untutor'd maid of dusky hue; Nor shall thy tribes from memory vanish quite, While beauteous deeds as angels ofttimes do, Still sway the generous mind with heavenly might, For thine would snatch even worse from Time's oblivious night.
The tallest fir, that decks the blooming grove, Decays the first, the most abounding rose, By worms is first consumed; the pearl we love Is stolen first, the star that brightest glows To gild the gloom, is first that sets, and those Whose lovely lives on earth we prized the most, And most assuaged the pangs of thronging woes, Which—oh how oft! our fated paths have cross'd, By all are ever mourned, "the loved and early lost."
So Rolfe's dear spouse was early snatched away,— But left one pledge of her undying love— (Perchance her happy spirit oft would stray Round their dear footsteps wheresoe'er they rove)
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[A]
[B]
And Europe's turf grow green her heart above. No more could grief or joy disturb her breast. Soft by her tomb let musing Fancy move! Let not a sound of thoughtlessness molest The melancholy spot of her eternal rest!
Her fair form sank low in the gloomy earth— Her spirit soared and found a brighter home, Where now with sun-bright smiles, she wanders forth, Beneath the glories of a heavenly dome; Where Seraphs o'er bright fields forever roam, And flowers aloft Life's never dying tree, Whither no evil thing can ever come; Where now she blends her heart and harp to sing A ceaseless song of praise to her Eternal King.
But oft the eye which scans yon ruin old, Where Jamestown erst in simple grandeur rose, Shall fill with tears—as there it doth behold— For it will speak to him of heroes' woes, Felt erewhile whence this river gently flows,— And sprang this famous, Hero-bearing State;— And while with pride his patriot bosom glows, His heart her gentle history will relate, And warmly laud her deeds, and mourn her early fate.
Jamestown.
Whip-poor-will.
A SONG.
Amid the tempest, wild and dark, Upon Life's troubled sea; One only star illumes the scene, With heavenly brilliancy.
Oh! sweetly o'er the howling deeps, Its venturing beam shines out; And bright, relieves my weeping eye, And calms my soul from doubt.
That star is pure Religion's light. A pole star, calm but blest, It guides my lost and trembling bark, To Heaven's sweet port of rest.
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ELFINDALE.
PART FIRST.
Sweet Frankie lives in Elfindale; Where all the flowers are fair, and frail (Like her fair self,) a slender fairy, And like a zephyr, playsome, airy, But lovelier far, than buxom Mary. Now, since I saw her full, bright eyes, And heard her tongue's rich melodies, Solace the evening air, Sweet Elfindale, e'er loved of yore, Has grown more fair, beloved more, A part of some fay-walked shore, A haunt of beauties rare. The gay dawn smells more fragrant there, (When youthful May, new, fresh and fair, Comes, bird-like through the laughing air,) Than it was even of old; And Evening throws a richer dress, (O'er Elfindale's mild loveliness,) Of fading pink and gold. The moonlight nights are lovelier now, On silent Elfindale; More pure the beams, more soft the glow, That sleeps upon the vale: So much of beauty God hath given To sweetest Frankie—gracious Heaven! She spares so much to beautify, Fair Elfindale to my charm'd eye,— And yet she loses none at all Of that which holds my soul in thrall. Now, if my harp shall echo well, The story of her life, and tell, In worthy feet, her beauty's power That flourished as a springtime flower, I shall be richer, happier far Than one should own a round, bright star. And what if the fair maid should smile, To hear my warbled strain? Ah! that would all my grief beguile, Undo the life of Pain. I one time saw a laughing mirth Leap in the maiden's eyes, And thought the too aspiring earth Had robbed the jewelled skies, Of one bright angel, even her: She made my very being stir.
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I ne'er saw sweet Frankie's mother, What I had glowed to see, Yet think no mortal earth's another, Bore child so fair as she. I ween that mother was a queen In royal qualities, And in her lofty eyes and mien, Lurked lovely majesties. I ne'er saw sweet Frankie's mother, What I had glowed to see; But cannot, long-lost mother! smother The love that swells for thee.
When Frankie came into this world, In lovely Elfindale, The winds were lulled, and waves lay curled, Beneath the moonlight pale: The cold stars twinkled far above, And danced, with their bright eyes of love; The gleaming waters did rejoice, And breathed a soft, enamored voice; The sleeping zephyr on his flowers, Awaked to bless the gliding hours Which gave this tiny being, birth, A bliss, a Blessing to the earth. She was, in truth, a beauteous child: At three years old her eyes were wild With something of a playfulness; And then she had the softest tress Of auburn tint, that fell and flew About her neck of damask hue. To watch throughout the Summer day, The butterfly's capricious play, Or humming bird's bright, rainbow wings, And all gay, joyous, natural things. To hear the poets of the grove, Sing forth their little lays of love; Or to survey the stars come forth, Or dancing rainbows hug the earth: These were the pastime and the play, That whiled her infant hours away. And blest was sylvan Elfindale, With child so fair within its pale.
That was a bland and holy morn, Like one, on very purpose, born, A gray godmother stood, Before the chancel's sacred place, With Frankie's sweet and artless grace, And heard the preacher good. And as the bright baptism fell,
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